SA startup scores US accelerator jackpot

Cape Town - One South African startup has hit the accelerator jackpot by being the first to be included in the US-based 500 Start-ups accelerator.

SweepSouth is the first South African startup to be included in the four month programme as well as funding of $125 000.

The startup operates like an "Uber for cleaning" in major South African centres Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria. It matches cleaners with offices and has experienced healthy growth after receiving angel funding in SA.

"We are meeting some of the smartest people in the industry who understand and have experience in taking a company like SweepSouth from thousands of transactions a month to hundreds of thousands," said Alen Ribic, SweepSouth chief technology officer.

A number of accelerators have targeted Africa in order to gain a foothold into a fast growing emerging market.

There are 21 startup accelerators operating in SA with the aim of investing in companies with a view to scale businesses though some differ on exit strategy.


In the traditional US start-up market, early investors look to cash in their shares at a profit, but locally, the strategy is often to build viable businesses, according to one expert.

"When we invest in the companies, it's not just 'Take the money; we'll sell you after a couple of months or a year,' but we put people on the ground with these companies to work with them," Marcello Schermer regional manager for Africa at Seedstars World told Fin24 recently.

For SweepSouth, the focus is to utilise the opportunity to grow the business.

"The focus of the next four months is clear - achieve exponential growth and present our achievements in front of some of the top investors and media houses in the world. Each week we are exposed to more impressive mentors and each week our - and their - expectations grow. It's exhilarating… in a terrifying way," said CEO Aisha Pandor.

Aisha Pandor is Minister Naledi Pandor's daughter. Aisha Pandor has a PhD in Human Genetics from the University of Cape Town (UCT) and an Associate in Management from the UCT Graduate School of Business.

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